Gevaert first Belgian woman to win Euro gold
Kim Gevaert won the 100 metres title to become Belgium's first female European champion yesterday. The twice European indoor 60 metres champion led from the gun and was never troubled as she crossed the line in 11.06 seconds.
"I feel great, it's so wonderful to have it go as planned," Gevaert told reporters.
Russian duo Yekaterina Grigoryeva and Irina Khabarova took second and third place respectively in the same time of 11.22 seconds.
Olympic champion Yuliya Nesterenko, who has been anonymous on the track this season, was sixth in 11.34.
"Everything I dreamed about just came together. I've worked so hard this year. For the first time in a big championship I do a good 100 because so many times I mess up," said Gevaert, who won two silvers four years ago in Munich.
"I knew I had to do a big start and that gave me the wings to just keep on going," added the sprin-ter, who broke down with joy after the finish.
Belgium had previously won only two gold medals at the European Championships, in the 3,000 metres steeplechase in 1962 and the marathon in 1971.
Gevaert, 28, said there had been a lot of expectation in Belgium on her bringing home the country's first European gold in 35 years.
"You feel the pressure and you put pressure on yourself. I was thinking, 'Come on Kim, it's there and you can do it'."
When asked how the night ranked in her life Gevaert replied with a grin: "It's top three, but I'm not telling you the other two, they're private."
The fastest European woman this season could add to Belgium's tally when she runs in the 200. The heats start today.
Earlier in the day, Portuguese Francis Obikwelu, bidding to become the first man since 1978 to complete a sprint double at the European Championships, cruised into the semi-finals of the men's 200 metres.
The 27-year-old, who set the fastest European time of the year to retain his 100 metres title the day before, beat his opponents in the second round heat with ease, finishing in 20.58 seconds.
Obikwelu turned his speed down toward the end of the run but still finished 0.10 of a second ahead of second-placed Greek Anastasios Gousis.
The last man to complete a 100 and 200 metres double was Italian Pietro Mennea in 1978.
Also yesterday, world and Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva successfully began her quest for the only major title she is missing by qualifying for the pole vault final.
Isinbayeva, who suffered a rare defeat in the run up to the championships when she lost to Poland's Monika Pyrek in Stockholm last month, cleared the qualifying height of 4.40 metres.
Pyrek and defending champion Svetlana Feofanova both went over 4.40 at the first time of asking and could give the world record holder a run for her money in Saturday's final.